Precautionary approach needed to pesticides
As someone who has heavily researched and investigated pesticides over the last four years I would like to add some comments to this debate.
I support the factually accurate and common sense response by Paula Baillie-Hamilton.
There has been a considerable amount of scientific literature over the past 50 years that has linked pesticide exposure with many chronic illnesses and diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions, as well as various forms of cancer.
The link with Parkinson’s has now finally even been accepted by the Government’s very own Advisory Committee on Pesticides and the link with prostate cancer has also recently been accepted by the Government’s Advisory Committee on Carcinogenicity.
However, they will always stress that it is ‘fairly small’ and that further research, along with better monitoring is needed to be able to prove causality.
This is just not good enough with the evidence that exists, because while further studies are carried out the Government are still allowing people to be exposed unabated when there is no proof of safety.
The principle aim of pesticide regulation is supposed to be the protection of public health and it states that if there is evidence of a risk, however small Government advisors may claim it to be, then pesticides are supposed to be restricted or revoked or their use is supposed to be restricted or revoked.
Rural residents, living near sprayed fields, will be receiving very high levels of exposure to mixtures of different pesticides throughout every year and in many cases, for decades. Yet there has never been any adequate exposure assessment for this specific exposure scenario, as the current risk assessments are predictive models based on short-term exposure only. Therefore without an adequate exposure assessment there cannot possibly be an appropriate or realistic assessment of the risks to health for those who live in an agricultural area.
Therefore the Government should be taking a preventative approach rather than adopting further delaying tactics by calling for yet more research.
How many more studies have to show that pesticides are damaging human health and causing both acute and chronic long-term illnesses and diseases before the Government puts public health first and foremost on the policy agenda?
I have to finish my comments by saying that I do find it ironic that so often people like myself, Paula and Elizabeth Salter-Green are accused of ‘scaremongering’ or acting on ’emotion’ rather than science, when we always present our findings in a highly professional manner based on existing peer-reviewed scientific literature. Yet people like Professor Trewavas fire off comments that quite frankly are wholly disrespectful to anyone who has undertaken a scientific study or review that has found evidence of an association with any acute or chronic illness or disease.
To start off his response by saying someone else’s response is ‘rubbish’ is quite simply rude and emotive and is not what I would call having a sensible and professional discussion.
Georgina Downs, UK
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